If anyone visits Chandpur municipality, he or she will surely find a unique kitchen market on Mayor Road where all the sellers and the buyers are women.
Apart from vegetables, grocery items and fish, housewives, mostly from low-income families, sell other items, including needles, yarn, bracelets, necklaces, toys, chocolates, biscuits, chips, beverage, tea and even cigarettes in the makeshift market which is locally known as ‘Bou Bazar’.
Locals said a group of 3-4 women started selling goods in the area nearly 30 years back, aiming to improve their economic condition.
Now, around 80 women traders sell products worth around Tk 3 lakh regularly sitting under tents or open sky braving scorching heat, heavy rainfall and bone-chilling cold throughout the year to supplement their family incomes.
Contacted, Amena Begum and Nargis, traders of the market, said every morning their husbands go to Puran Bazar on the bank of the Meghna River and Paler Bazar in the district town and purchase vegetables and fish at wholesale rates.
Later, the female traders sell those items at their makeshift market at cheaper prices at minimum profits.
One kg of Pangasius fish sells here at Tk 100 against Tk 150 to Tk 170 in other markets, the traders claimed.
Besides, they sell vegetable items at Tk 15 to Tk 20 per kg which are sold at Tk 40 to TK 50 in other local markets.
While visiting the market, the UNB correspondent found a group of female sellers, including Sheli Begum, 30, Amena Begum, 35, Nargis, 25, Nazma, 25, Habiba, 30, Johra, 37, Maju, 50, and Rehana ,30, selling different items to their customers.
Most of the traders live in adjacent the areas to the market. They generally sit in the market in the early hours and continue their business till 11 am.
Sheli Begum, a trader, said, “We don’t feel shy in operating the market …we’re very confident …nobody disturbs me and demands any toll from me either.”
Ohab Gazi, 55, a resident of the area, said, “These female traders run their business with small capital -- with Tk 800 to Tk 3,000. They launched it for survival only.”
On average, Gazi added, they earn a profit of Tk 200-Tk 300 a day.
Shamim Khan, another resident of the area, said a few years back the traders of Puran Bazar Kitchen market, another market in the municipality area, took an attempt to evict the female market.
However, these hardworking female traders foiled the evil attempt, Khan added.
Locals said mayor of Chandpur Municipality and Awami League leader Nasiruddin Ahmed along with panel mayor Siddiqur Rahman Dhali and councilor Mohammad Ali Majhee and local social workers provide various support to the female traders to continue their small businesses there.